POLITICS
10/23/2013 05:23 pm ET Updated Nov 19, 2013

HUFFPOLLSTER: McAuliffe Leads In Virginia, But Not By THAT Much

Terry McAuliffe leads in Virginia -- but probably not by 17 points. The GOP's polling woes are taking a toll on their home districts. And @pourmecoffee does our job in one tweet. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, October 23, 2013.

McAULIFFE LEAD STEADY IN VA - On a new Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters in Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe holds a 7 percentage point lead (46 to 39 percent) with Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis getting 10 percent. That's nearly the same result as the 8-point McAuliffe lead (47 to 39 percent) that the pollsters found earlier in October. Quinnipiac release: "By a 58 - 36 percent margin, voters have an unfavorable opinion of this year's race for governor, with 34 percent saying 'strongly unfavorable.' Voters don't think much of the candidates, either, giving McAuliffe a negative 39 - 43 percent favorability while Cuccinelli gets a negative 38 - 52 percent score. For Sarvis, 78 percent don't know enough to form an opinion." [Quinnipiac]

But Rasmussen? - An automated poll released on Tuesday by Rasmussen Reports produced the largest lead by far for McAuliffe over Cuccinelli of any poll to date (50 to 33 percent). The size of the margin led George Mason University political scientist Michael McDonald to wonder, via Twitter, whether it was "indicative of temp[orarily] lower enthusiasm" among Tea Party identifiers that might be affecting the likely voter models. [Rasmussen, @ElectProject]

HuffPost Model - The new and improved Pollster chart, using a poll-tracking model developed for HuffPost by Stanford Professor Simon Jackman, gives McAuliffe a ten percentage point advantage over Cuccinelli (45.6 to 35.6) as of this writing. [Pollster]

Chart updates daily - a feature, not a bug - One additional note about the new model. It will update at least once a day whether or not new polling data is available. In the absence of new data the estimates of candidate support should remain highly stable, but the confidence bands around each candidate should widen. In other words, as the latest poll starts to get stale, our confidence about whether the leader is really ahead diminishes.

GALLUP FINDS SLIGHT INCREASE IN ACA APPROVAL - HuffPost: "Views of President Barack Obama's health care law have risen slightly since August, despite the widespread technical problems associated with the launch of its online health care exchanges, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday. The poll finds that 45 percent of Americans generally approve of the Affordable Care Act, up from from 41 percent two months ago. Disapproval of the law, currently at 50 percent, remains roughly the same, with most of the newfound approval coming from those who were formerly undecided. The rise in opinion was by far greatest among Democrats, 83 percent of whom now approve of the law, up 12 points since August….As HuffPost reported on Tuesday, five out of six other new surveys asking about approval of the health care law show a slight increase in approval of the law since September." [HuffPost]

GENERIC BALLOT & ANTI-INCUMBENCY HURT GOP IN THEIR OWN DISTRICTS - Sean Sullivan: "The budget standoff that led to a government shutdown exacted a heavy toll on the Republican Party’s image. Now comes fresh evidence to suggest it has complicated the GOP’s effort to retain its House majority...Democrats hold a comfortable 48 percent to 40 percent lead among registered voters in the generic ballot test [on the Post/ABC poll]. But it’s not just the topline national numbers (which are not perfect predictors) that should worry Republicans. It’s what’s going on in Republican-held districts that should turn more heads. Republicans hold an 8-point lead in districts they control, compared to Democrats’ 30-point lead in their districts...A majority of registered voters in GOP districts (54 percent) disapprove of the job their member is doing compared to just 37 percent who approve. In Democratic districts, voters are split." [WaPost]

How'd they do that? - Some readers may wonder how the Post/ABC poll's methodology, which reaches respondents via randomly generated phone numbers, enabled identification of their congressional district. The answer via email from Washington Post polling director is that they "used zip codes to map respondents to congressional districts." Zip codes were matched to respondents for the landline sample (based on data on how telephone area codes and exchanges map to zip codes), and respondents interviewed via cell phone were asked to provide a zip code.

YESTERDAY IN ONE TWEET - "If you missed today's polling news, a majority of Americans just want to get high and for the GOP to cut it out. Now you're caught up." [@Pourmecoffee]

HUFFPOLLSTER VIA EMAIL! - You can receive this daily update every weekday via email! Just enter your email address in the box on the upper right corner of this page, and click "sign up." That's all there is to it (and you can unsubscribe anytime).

WEDNESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-The MassINC/WBUR poll shows a close race in Boston's mayoral runoff election. [WBUR]

-The Washington Post/ABC News survey shows Republicans leading by 8 percentage point in districts they control, compared to Democrats’ 30-point lead in their districts.
-Counter the conventional wisdom, Nicholas Goedert estimates that Democrats could take back the house with just five percentage point national generic ballot lead. [WaPost's Monkey Cage]

-Glen Bolger (R), Fred Yang (D), Kristen Soltis Anderson (R) and Jef Pollock (D) explain the political consequences of rising anti-incumbent sentiments. [WaPost's The Fix]

-David Hill (R) argues that the shutdown energized activist voters from both parties but left most voters hearing just 'blah, blah, blah." [The Hill]

-Mark Mellman (D) offers six lessons from the shutdown. [The Hill]

-A University of Arkansas poll finds Tom Cotton 1 point ahead of Mark Pryor among likely voters. [UArk]

-An internal poll conducted for Tom Cotton's campaign by OnMessage (R) puts his 4 points ahead. [TomCotton.com]

-Mellman profiled by the Princeton Alumni Weekly. [Princeton]

-Harry Enten believes the Gallup result showing majority support for marijuana legalization is an outlier. [Guardian]

-Susquehanna Polling explains that they now use live interviewer calls to cell phones to supplement landline automated surveys. [SPRBlog]

-Baseball fans are divided over the Red Sox and Cardinals, but most Americans don't have a preference. [YouGov]

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